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Columnist Sharon Nesbit recalls a simpler time, long before the angst of the pandemic and wildfires.

SHARON NESBITLooking at a map of Oregon and seeing that Fort Stevens and Astoria were not on fire, I evacuated. First pestilence, now fire, I said to myself. What is next?

Smoke is like guilt, it hangs low and makes you sad. And then you hear really bad news while you are frying bacon in the motor home and pretending things are ordinary.

Talent and Phoenix, the little towns north of Ashland where people lived who couldn't afford Ashland. Homes incinerated. And in this one case, likely arson.

At Fort Stevens, the smoke hangs low pushing toward the ocean, but we have been promised a wind shift to nudge it out of here and east. It is still better than Portland or Oregon City and I count myself lucky.

I called Tiger to see if he has moved to my house at Troutdale, but he was still hanging out at Level 2. We remembered when he was a little boy, maybe 4, riding his bike in this park with his bigger cousin, Scooter.

We told Scooter to take care of Tiger, but Scooter was enjoying his only-child period and saw Tiger as a nuisance.

So when they returned to our campfire (think of it, a fire built for fun) Tiger braked his bike and yelled ungrammatically, "We eated berries."

No. 1 Kid, who had just taken a class on how many things in the woods can poison you, came out of her chair like her hair was on fire and asked Scooter what his little cousin had eaten. Scooter responded with an indifferent shrug, an answer that could cover everything from bear bait to a Hershey bar.

Tiger was required to back pedal with his nervous aunt to point out the berry he "eated" — a dusty huckleberry. You miss those lovely days in the woods.

A million or more acres. Fires that will not stop until it rains. We haven't even talked yet of wildlife losses.

And in this inferno, the ignorant circulating hogwash among the unread about suspicious origins. Suck it up and say it out loud — climate change. Way scarier than arson or antifa.

It is better to note that this is a time of great heroism. The deputies who drove through Malden, Wash., screaming out their windows for people to get out. The female fire chief, who took her crew out, knowing she might — and did — lose her own home. And the people who heard of her lack of underwear — and sent 700 pairs.

Read your newspapers, people. Be grateful they are there. Pay for them. And thank every reporter out there.

Sharon Nesbit can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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